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The school secretary tried to not openly panic at hearing Gillian’s request, and stuttered an excuse to flee into the principal’s office, ignoring the nervous glances of the other two women working there. When the man showed up, Gillian concealed a bitter smirk. It was written all over him—bully. This was no educator. This was a thug playing business man. Oh, she loved it. After five years married to Connor’s father, she’d learned to enjoy dealing with bullies.
The big man sailed in no hurry to the front desk and flashed a cold, quick smile at them. “Good morning, officer. I’m Principal Jackson, how can I help you?”
Gillian matched his fake smile to answer, “Actually it’s Lieutenant, Mr. Jackson; Lieutenant Gillian with the Special Crimes Unit.” Do you hear the capital letters, bully? “And I’ve already stated to the lady how you’re gonna be of help.”
The secretary gave him the list of names with a shaky hand. The man glanced down at it. “You want to meet these students now? I’m sorry, but they’re all taking their classes.”
“I understand, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience it may cause, but we need to interview them now, as well as see their records.”
“Those are confidential, Lieutenant.”
Gillian glanced at Aldana, who produced her phone and dialed. Then she glanced at Fred and faced Jackson again.
“While we wait for the warrants, Agent Morris will guard your archives, to make sure nothing happens to the records we need. Now I would appreciate if you summon the students on this list.”
“…oh, no need to come over yourself, just send a cruiser,” said Aldana on the phone. “Thanks, bye.”
Gillian watched the principal do the math. There was a couple of TV crews still lurking around, and a cruiser and uniforms striding up the gates would only draw attention. Especially if they were to leave with a box full of documents. Then the man looked at Fred, his mind showing all over his face once more—such a hippie in my precious office.
“I’m waiting, Mr. Jackson,” Gillian said coldly.
The man loathed her guts. He breathed in and faced the secretary. “Bring them,” he grunted.
“Not here,” said Gillian. “We need an empty classroom, the library, any other place. Sergeant Miles, please help the lady fetch them, and stay with them.”
The secretary shot an almost desperate look at the principal, who set his jaw and nodded. Aldana left with the secretary. A nervous assistant tried to walk into Jackson’s office—were all of them in this? wondered Gillian.
Fred circled the counter to stop her. “Excuse me, ma’am, but you can’t go in there for a while,” he said, soft as the moss concealing the rock beneath.
The woman stiffened and turned to Jackson. He nodded again and she went back to her desk. Fred rested against the doorframe, sinking his hands in his pockets, ankles crossed as if he were in a park, resting against a tree. He never did that kind of thing, and Gillian hid a smile at the way he enjoyed the situation too.
Jackson faced her, trying to look serious and menacing. He was getting a heartburn anytime now, and Gillian savored it in advance: he was beginning to understand he was doomed.
“Excuse me, but what is this about?”
Like he didn’t know. Gillian held his eyes, trying to decide whether he was playing dumb or he thought she was an idiot. “It’s related to Roger Johnson’s murder, Mr. Jackson, and that’s all you need to know right now.”
“Should I call the school’s attorneys?”
“If you think it’s necessary, by all means, do call them.”